Tripolitan Pirates Break Treaty

During the next seven years, after the Tripolitan treaty, American shipping was left alone; but after the War of 1812, the Barbary pirates, thinking the British had destroyed our navy, again began to attack our ships. They also ordered the American consul to leave Algiers, and he saved himself and family from slavery only by paying the dey twenty–seven thousand dollars.

Once more the dey demanded tribute of our country and as it was not paid as he wished, he declared war upon the United States in 1815. In reply to this declaration, Decatur, the hero of the war with Tripoli, was again sent to the Mediterranean. He boldly forced his way into the bay of Algiers, where he threatened to shell the town if the dey did not surrender all his prisoners, pay for the damage he had done to American shipping, give up all future claim to tribute, and come in person on board the American flagship to sign a treaty.

The dey tried for a while to get better terms, even hinting that he would gladly accept a tribute of powder instead of money. But although Decatur had only four sloops, four brigs, and one schooner wherewith to meet the pirates’ strong navy, he firmly answered: “If you insist upon receiving powder as a tribute, you must expect to receive balls with it.”

This threat proved enough. The dey was forced to yield, and, coming aboard the flagship, he surrendered his prisoners and signed a treaty in 1815. To end the trouble with the Barbary pirates once for all, Decatur next visited Tunis and Tripoli, where, in less than two months’ time, he forced the rulers to release their prisoners and promise never to harm Americans again. By this time the pirates had learned not to trifle any more with our country, nor have they dared to touch any of our ships since then.